May 22, 2008
I write to endorse the position of PIABA on this issue. As the NASD/Finra has purged arbitrators whom its member firms find to be insufficiently obsequious to the industry, there has developed a hard core group, mostly chair qualified, that accounts for the reduction of customer awards in both number and amount.
An abusive rule change last year allowed Finra to give these arbitrators two or three times as many opportunities to be placed on a panel as other arbitrators. Finra now seeks to install a moat around these "special" industry-friendly arbitrators by making it increasingly difficult to reach "chair" status. To allow this further anti-consumer amendment will insure increasing arbitrator hostility to defrauded customers for years to come. That is, sadly, a legacy that the current Commission and its staff seem to relish.